Gauging the Sincerity: The Riley Cooper Apology Video Zapruder
If you're looking for proof that we've never lived in an era where your life can change in the click of an iPhone button in five horrifically racist seconds, and that your digital fingerprint, the gigabytes of visual and audio proof of who you are and what you stand for, never, ever goes away, look no further than Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper.
Back on June 9, almost two months ago now, Cooper was at a Kenny Chesney concert and got into what appears to be a dust-up with what reportedly was an African-American security guard. Cooper, who had been drinking all day long (if that matters), was quite expressive in his belligerence.
How expressive? This expressive:
And that's how it happens.
NFL player, probably feeling fairly entitled and very loose-lipped, constant beer flow for ten hours, one security guard telling him "No!" and then out comes the N-bomb, iPhone rolling, upload to YouTube, and BOOM.
And if you need any digital proof that this is now what will lead off any discussion of Riley Cooper's legacy (unless he simultaneously cures cancer while rescuing ten abducted children), go run the Google Test on him. The Google Test is where you assess the first three or four things that accompany someone's name in the pull-down menu on Google. Generally, they correlate with what a person is best known for.
Riley Cooper's Google Test?
Riley Cooper video Riley Cooper racist Riley Cooper twitter
Yep, and the main reason his Twitter account cracked the top three in his Google Test is that it was the first place Cooper went after this video went public, immediately issuing an apology and contrition that bordered on resignation that his life would never be the same:
I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive. I have apologized to my coach, Jeffrey Lurie, and— Riley Cooper (@RileyCooper_14) July 31, 2013
Howie roseman and to my teammates. I owe an apology to the fans and to this community. I am so ashamed, but there are no excuses. What I did— Riley Cooper (@RileyCooper_14) July 31, 2013
Was wrong and I will accept the consequences.— Riley Cooper (@RileyCooper_14) July 31, 2013
Naturally, a Twitter apology wasn't going to be enough. Society and the Eagles needed to hear from Cooper, hear his voice, hear his sorrow. So Wednesday evening, Cooper met with the media, issued what appears to be a sincere apology (more on this in one second) and answered questions. Here is the full video:
The sound is better on the Deadspin story on the apology, if you want to give that a click.
Riley Cooper definitely looks like a broken, despondent man in this video, but does despondency equate to sincerity? As Cooper mentioned in the interview, he was fined a substantial amount by the Eagles (maximum they could fine him, by the way, according to sources, is around $39,000), and I frankly would be despondent, too, if someone reached into my pocket and took that much cash. (He deserved to be fined, by the way. I have no problem with that.)
Let's Zapruder the Deadspin apology video (if for no other reason than I don't have to strain to hear it) and rate the sincerity of the important responses on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being Ryan Leaf's apology for yelling at that reporter in 1998 (where he reluctantly read it off a cocktail napkin) and 10 being John Coffey's blubbering apology before he got fried in the electric chair at the end of The Green Mile:
"Were you drinking that day?" COOPER: "I was drinking that day, but that's no excuse for what I did." SINCERITY RATING: 9.6 It's good that Cooper didn't blame this on beer. This wasn't beer's fault. If everyone would stop blaming beer, the world would be a much friendlier place. And there would be more beer.
"Have you used that phrase before?" COOPER: "I don't use that. I was raised way better than that." SINCERITY RATING: Negative a BILLION I've unfortunately known a few adults in my lifetime who have used the N-word in the same disparaging, mean-spirited manner that Riley Cooper did. In observing the few who I've known who have used that word, never once have I said to myself, "Wow, that sounds like the first time they've EVER said that!" People who use that word tend to seem overly comfortable using it. Riley Cooper looks overly comfortable using it in that video from the concert. This was most definitely not the first time, the only time, and sadly, in private moments, it may not be the last time Riley Cooper uses that term.
"What are you going to tell your African-American teammates?" COOPER: "I'm going to tell them what I'm telling all of you, how extremely sorry I am, how I should have never said what I said..." SINCERITY RATING: 7.4 The dude seems pretty sorry, at the very least sorry that he's hurt some people. Again, incidents like this, especially drunken ones, tend to be more a manifestation of who you are rather than a deviation from who you are.
"Do you expect to be a marked man around the league?" COOPER: "I haven't thought that far ahead yet." SINCERITY RATING: 3.7 I'm pretty sure by the time Riley Cooper had taken to the microphone to express how sorry he was that someone had texted him or told him about Marcus Vick's Twitter feed. You may have seen the tweets (most of which have been deleted), but Vick, brother of Cooper's quarterback Michael, put a $1,000 bounty on Cooper's head for any safety that knocked him out of a game. (I'm anxiously awaiting the bounty fueled press release "New Orleans Saints have signed Marcus Vick.") So Cooper had to have at least given some thought to it, right?
Maybe the most depressing discovery in all of this mess yesterday was that we learned Marcus Vick has a publicist:
With apologies to Johnny Manziel's Tim Tebow jersey, Marcus Vick's having a publicist may be the greatest troll of all time.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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